*This year, in his seventh NFL season, guard Marco Rivera became the first Packers offensive lineman to be voted to the Pro Bowl since Larry McCarren in 1983.
The all-star selection was a much-deserved reward for Rivera, who started all 17 games -- including post-season play -- despite tearing the medial collateral ligaments in both knees.
In addition to protecting Brett Favre, Rivera and his fellow offensive linemen opened holes for the Packers' best rushing season in 17 years.
Sunday, February 2, Rivera will join Packers wide receiver Donald Driver, tight end Bubba Franks, safety Darren Sharper and the rest of the all-stars at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii, for the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl (Brett Favre and Ahman Green both were voted into the all-star game, but will not participate because of injuries).
Making his first trip to Hawaii, Rivera offered to share his Pro Bowl experience in an online diary exclusive to Packers.com.*
Pro Bowl Diary, Part III - January 31, 2003
Since my last installment I didn't get time to go on that helicopter ride, but I have had a lot of fun here in Hawaii.
One of the things I did was to visit the Pearl Harbor memorial. That was really interesting to hear the stories and see where it all happened.
The attack on Pearl Harbor happened a while ago, but it's an important part of our history that we should always remember. To go to the memorial and look down at the U.S.S. Arizona and know that there are soldiers that never made it out of there, that are still trapped inside the hull of that ship, that's powerful!
Other than that, my wife and I have spent more time on the beach.
Yesterday I fell asleep in the sun and now my skin is as crisp as bacon.
That's a lesson everyone: Don't fall asleep on the beach in Hawaii. You will pay for it! Trust me. I feel like my skin is going to fall off my body.
Still, I wish I had more time to spend here. I could be happy for another month easy. Right now I don't miss Green Bay one bit, I promise you.
Well, I do miss my kids and it will be nice to go home and see them, but if they were here I'd be staying another week.
It's getting close now to the reason that I'm here in the first place: the Pro Bowl.
Practices have been going well. I've had no trouble adapting to the offense and everybody looks really good, which I guess you'd expect from a team of all-stars.
What you might not expect is that we all seem to be on the same page. Guys are trying really hard and I haven't seen any mental mistakes.
When practices started, everyone was kind of feeling each other out, but now we've started to come together like football players do. We've bonded and we're going to do our best to beat the AFC.
We know that the whole NFC is counting on us to do that, so that's the goal. And we know that we can play hard and still have fun.
When I first got here, I think I was kind of in awe of the whole situation. But after being here for a week, it's had time to sink in.
I know that I worked hard to get here and deserve to be here, so I'm enjoying it.
In fact, the best thing about this whole trip has just been being around the guys. It doesn't get any better than riding the bus back from practice with a bunch of Pro Bowlers.
Everybody is cracking jokes and laughing.
Ron Stone of the San Francisco 49ers has to be the funniest of them all. It's one joke after another with that guy. He's hilarious!
When guys aren't telling jokes they're telling stories, usually about big plays people made during the season.
They've also been asking a lot about Brett Favre and why he didn't come play in the Pro Bowl. I've kind of become Brett's spokesperson.
I tried to tell them that he has a hurt ankle, but they're not buying it.
But being around these other Pro Bowlers has made this a very rewarding experience. I've played against some of these guys for so long that to be able to go to dinner with them and meet their wives, it's awesome!
So now it's almost time to go play the game. I hope everyone will be rooting for the NFC to win Sunday.
I'll wrap things up Wednesday when I get back to Green Bay.
Before I go, I just have to thank my biggest fans: Dorothy and Lisa. I couldn't have done it without them.